iQuit (again)

The only way to beat device dependence

Paul Greenberg

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Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

This summer my flip phone died. The 3G network that powered my outdated little number was discontinued and a 5G flip phone hadn’t quite come along yet. So, really, I had a good excuse when I took an old iPhone out of a drawer. I had somewhat famously quit smartphones in 2018 and published a book about the experience. For nearly four years I walked around quietly smug while most other Americans spent on average a full waking month out of every year on their phones. The fact that I was about to power up an iPhone again didn’t trouble me much. I was 100% sure when I slid the SIM card out of the flip and popped it temporarily into the temporary device that there wasn’t a chance in hell that I’d go back to being a regular user.

Eight months later my “temporary” iPhone had found its familiar groove in my brain.

I won’t waste your time by telling you about how I rejoined the shuffling mob of the looking-down-lost and went back to my acupuncturist so that she could once again treat my “text neck.” I won’t recount how I came to ignore Goodbye Phone, Hello World’s advice and stopped taking paper-based reading material on the subway. I won’t mention how I came to violate all the schemes that I and all the other digital detox gurus out there espouse to help a user curb device addiction: hiding apps in squirreled away folders so it’s hard to find them (it’s not that hard, I found them); never activating a data plan so the internet was never too easily at hand (WiFi in most cities is has become ubiquitous — you can always get online).

But what I will say is that I never got my device any kind of protection. No hard case. No anti-scratch screen defender. No Apple Care. So when this December I dropped the phone for the 5th or 6th time the screen not only shattered into crunchy glass crumblies, the display behind the glass started to flicker and fade like the sputtering end of a sci fi villain.

Finally, after I’d turned one too many slices of my thumb into prosciutto from repeated sliding over the cracked screen’s mandolin, I looked up and realized the madness of my methods. Two last words came to mind:

“You’re terminated.”

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Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org